Some of the first music videos I ever watched on MTV featured Weezer. I remember being immediately fascinated by this nerdy but punk mentality that was just weird enough to exist at the time, after Kurt Cobain had died, but before Y2K came around. No matter where I am in the US, I can still hardly turn on an alternative rock radio station without hearing the group’s iconic hits. The first time I saw Weezer play live, I was at Merriweather Post Pavillion, probably a junior in high school. So to see them or not when they came to the St Augustine Amiptheater was hardly a question. They are one of those bands who does not put on an act or a facade to impress fans, or make people laugh, or be percieved as any cooler than they are. They don’t stick their tongues out at photographers lenses or thrust their hips. However, they are aware of everything from the way they play, to the energy level of their crowd. After serving as alternative rock’s geek squad for so long, their appearance might be a little tongue in cheek, but if they are playing up the dork factor, it is subtle.
The show took place on a warm spring night, immediately after a raucous slew of thunderstorms hit Northeast Florida. For a non-Floridian, I suppose it was hot as hell. One of the few comments made by frontman Rivers Cuomo during the show was “It is HOT!” After The Pauses closed their opening set, and the skies calmed, fans quickly filled the Ampitheater jittering with excitement. Weezer took the cue and immediately rocked the house, opening with Hashpipe. When they play live it is heavier, more bass filled, and a little more punk rock. That evening they played tracks spanning their repertoire. “Hashpipe” was followed by “My Name is Jonas,” the favorite song of a shoulder riding toddler who partied next to us all evening. “My Name is Jonas” was followed by their ultra catchy 2009 release “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To.” They treated us to most of their biggest hits from “Beverly Hills” to “Say it Aint So.” It was a full house and you did not to be a loyal fan to know every word. They are one of those bands who has churned out hit after hit, tracks that wriggle their way into a listener’s mind until you find yourself eagerly chanting along 15 years later. During “Perfect Situation” they lit up the crowd and Cuomo, who donned his classic rimmed glasses and periwinkle, sticker covered guitar, faced his mic to the crowd, allowing an extended ring of “ohhs” to fill the venue.
Weezer does not really need to be talked up; their sound does not need to be explained. They have a surprisingly wide, loyal fanbase who knows every lyric, even to their newer, less radio friendly releases. Each member of the group has their own energy. Patrick Wilson drums from a high raised platform, with the groups ever present glowing logo behind him. Brian Bell uses shimmering, angular axes and stares down seriously, long hair in his face. Bassist Scott Shriner wears his mustache shaved like a seventies porn star as he lays out grooves and experimental synth. Rivers Cuomo even threw on a red velvet cape and gold crown for last year’s single “King of the World.” After forcing us to beg for an encore, Cuomo came back and – “Damn you half Japanese girls!” – threw it back to 1996 for an energetic crowd-pleasing rendition of “El Scorcho.” I eagerly waited for “Pork and Beans” to begin thinking it was the only logical closing number, and totally forgetting about “Buddy Holly.” As they blasted into their finale, which was “Buddy Holly” massive amounts of rainbow confetti fell through the air – a departure from that afternoon, when storms made us fear the half-outdoor show would be cancelled. Despite not talking much, they exit graciously, with a bow. The show was short, but embodied Weezer’s sound, attitude, and mission. Their world tour continues through autumn. Make sure to get pit tickets for your closest date to get up close, dance, and feel the energy Weezer brings to the stage.